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  • Thu, March 21, 2019 3:59 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    On The Earie   
    By Tom Powell, OABA News Ambassador
    March 21, 2019

    A note from Lorelei Schoendienst of Luehrs Ideal Rides on Feb. 28 had me a bit concerned about the outcome of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, but it turned out there was nothing to fear, as total attendance for the Feb. 25-March17 extravaganza wound up at a whopping 2,506,263.

    That beat last year's total of 2,408,550, and was off the record of 2,611,176 that was set in 2017. Ray Cammack Shows, led by Guy and Charlene Leavitt, had another banner year on the midway. Brad Paisley drew a crowd of 74,929 on the event's closing Saturday, and George Strait set an NRG Stadium record by drawing 80,108 fans in a standalone show on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Also on the bill were Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. Other than the Strait show, concert attendance was 1,337,725, off from 2018's 1,346,388 and the record of 1,377,477 established in 2015.

    Schoendienst, an OABA director, had written, “Andy and I just visited the RCS Carnival in Houston. WOW! Even though they were experiencing horrible weather, the show looked fabulous. I was able to visit the RCS Christian Academy with an enrollment of 16. The school is first class. The children have a schedule beneficial to parents and students. I was proud to present them with a check for $2,000 from the OABA’s Duke Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund.” Hub Luehrs, Lorelei's father, an OABA Trustee in 1980. Her husband, Andy, held that role in 2008, and Lorelei's sister, Jean Clair, was the OABA's first female chair in 1996.

    Lorelei noted that there are two other carnival schools that receive these benefits from OABA’s scholarship foundation. They are the Deggeller Attractions Academy, and Powers Great American Midways School.

    While waiting to hear from Guy, I talked to food concessionaire Jim Swain, whose Pizza on a Stick had a record year at Houston. He confirmed that the show started off with cold and rainy weather and he became a little concerned. “But once the weather got better, business boomed, and we all took off.” Swain and his wife, Janice, have been playing Houston since 2003. “It's our first spot of the year.” His son, Jimmy, is set up in Austin for the March 16-30 Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo. Aaron Watson performed on the opening Saturday, and Swain said his son had a big night, also with Pizza on a Stick.

    Swain said RCS had a fundraiser at around 11pm on the busiest Saturday of the Houston event, and funds were raised to help OABA with the H-2B lobbying efforts for seasonal, foreign labor initiatives.   “We had all our eight H-2B workers here, and they are terrific.” Interestingly, Swain flew them back to Mexico the day after the rodeo and livestock show finished. “I'll have them come back for when we play the Porter County Fair, Valparaiso, Indiana (July 18-27), even though we won't need them until the Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis (Aug. 2-18), and Illinois State Fair, Springfield (Aug. 8-19).”

    Swain said he is then blessed with a good route that includes the State Fair of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Oklahoma State Fair; Arkansas State Fair, Little Rock, and State Fair of Louisiana, Shreveport. His next date is the Blueberry Festival, formerly held in Brooksville, Fla., that is set for March 28-31 at the Formosa Garden Events Center, Kissimmee. After that, his next spot is the Marion County Fair, Indianapolis, June 21-30, “and a couple other small fairs.” He said Porter County keeps growing and this year has Brooks & Dunn, Sawyer Brown and Diamond Rio as entertainment.

    HLRS President Joel Cawley said the most popular rides were La Grande XL; Skyide Ice Jets, and Crazy Coaster. The most popular game prizes were basketballs, llamas, and alpacas. He added that approximately 376,000 Oreos were battered, fried, and dusted with powdered sugar. An orchard of apples was used for the consumption of candy and caramel apples. “We had another huge success.”

    Clark Converse, who has been general manager of the Pasco County Fair, Dade City, Fla., from 1998-2008, and again since 2012, said this year's 72nd annual event, held Feb.18-24, was up slightly in attendance to 43,000, with Wade Shows providing the midway. “They had most of their rides at the Florida State Fair, Tampa, so we had a lot from Matt McDonagh's Big Rock Amusements. Matt became a hero when the transformers blew up and electricity went out on the second day of the fair on the independent food midway. McDonagh's generators saved the day for the rest of the fair.”

    Garnering a lot of attention was Stevie Starr, known as The Regurgitator. Converse said he had appeared on TV's America's Got Talent and flew to Dade City from his home in Scotland for his first ever fair appearance. “He packed the houses, coming up with light bulbs, snooker balls, Rubik's cubes, balloons, jewelry, and even a live gold fish, He had been on Late Night with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Other entertainment included Trenton Tye's Purgatory Ironworks, Extreme Illusions & Escapes, Fearless Flores Thrill Show, Matt's Family Jam, Cowboy Circus with Danny Grant, Banjo Man Greg Thompson, Robinson's Racing Pigs, Fritzy Brothers One Man Circus, The Plant Guy, Rock-It The Robot, and Tom Umiker’s All About Ag. Wade has two years remaining on its current five-year contract. “Frank (Zaitshik) always does a good job for us,” said Converse.

    March 17 was a very busy day, with St. Patrick's Day celebrations including the Hit the Road Barbecue of the International Independent Showmen's Association in Gibsonton, Fla. “It was a beautiful day and the food was great. Attendance was a little off since everybody seems to be working,” said David Starkey, who was IISA club president in 1996.

    After playing the Lee County Fair in Fort Myers, Reithoffer Shows was set up at the Collier County Fair, Naples. Charles Panacek's Belle City Amusements ended up at the Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, and headed to the Sarasota County Fair. Opening are the Miami-Dade County Fair, with North American Midway Entertainment, and the Central Florida Fair, Orlando, with Wade, not to mention Texas, Arizona, and California fairs. It's a busy time.

    Veteran food concessionaires Rene and Judy Piche said opening day for them was very good at Miami. Judy said there was a charge for parking last year and with a new president in place, there is none this year, and that's a good thing.  Their son, Mark, had beignets and French Fries at Houston and did great. “He's got new vinyl and marquees from Uni-Glide, and his stands looked super good,” said Swain.

    I barely received the good news from my oncologist (she's not just mine) that the surgeon had told her my melanoma cancer had not reached my lymph nodes, that she suggested I take a brain scan and MRI as cautionary measures to ward off future problems. She knows more than I do, so here goes. Hurray!

    Needless to say, I can't wait for Opening Day of baseball season, which is March 28. Oddly enough, when I was talking to the nurse at my oncologist's, she asked what my occupation had been. It then hit me that I was operated on March 8, and that was the exact date in 1971 that I sat at ringside before an overflow crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York to cover the heavyweight boxing championship match between Muhammad Ali and Smokin' Joe Frazier. Tempis Fugits! She was overwhelmed that I knew Ali, even more so when I said I knew him first as Cassius Clay.

    Have all great days, and God Bless! 

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 319-1258

  • Wed, March 20, 2019 9:49 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  full history

              Change from
      03/04/19 03/11/19 03/18/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.076 3.079 3.070   values are down -0.009 values are up 0.098
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.119 3.123 3.124   values are up 0.001 values are up 0.115
    New England (PADD1A) 3.177 3.183 3.200   values are up 0.017 values are up 0.099
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.301 3.315 3.313   values are down -0.002 values are up 0.113
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.985 2.981 2.981   no change 0.000 values are up 0.123
    Midwest (PADD2) 3.014 3.011 2.992   values are down -0.019 values are up 0.094
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.870 2.881 2.869   values are down -0.012 values are up 0.083
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 2.939 2.939 2.944   values are up 0.005 values are up 0.019
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.503 3.505 3.497   values are down -0.008 values are up 0.113
    West Coast less California 3.155 3.162 3.139   values are down -0.023 values are up 0.079
    California 3.779 3.778 3.781   values are up 0.003 values are up 0.140
    *prices include all taxes
    https://www.eia.gov
  • Wed, March 20, 2019 3:46 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Courtesy Carnival Warehouse
    Monday, March 18, 2019

    Labor is one of the biggest challenges of the mobile amusement industry.  The struggle of many carnival companies, concessionaires,  and amusement parks is finding enough American workers who are willing to work in a seasonal business that requires hard, manual labor working during the summertime on nights, weekends and holidays.  Using temporary foreign labor through the H-2B Visa program has worked wonders for the amusement industry.  With the ability to find workers, companies are able to invest in their company and promote the American workers on their staff to positions with more responsibility.  

    President Trump, Please Help Save Small American Businesses

    Over 60% of seasonal businesses in 2019 were denied access to the program due to the arbitrary cap of 66,000 visas. The booming Trump economy has resulted in an unemployment rate of 4% and a record number of job openings. DOL's website highlights the fact that the number of jobs available has exceeded the number of job seekers for ten consecutive months. Seasonal employers are the first to suffer in a tight labor market. Job seekers naturally prefer full-time, year-round work. The need for additional H-2B visas is a sign of a healthy, strong economy.

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2019, signed into law on February 15th, grants DHS the authority to release up to 69,320 additional H-2B visas.

    If DHS does not release the 69,320 H-2B visas it is authorized to release, there will be severe consequences for seasonal businesses and to the overall economy. Several seasonal businesses denied access to the program due to the insufficient availability of visas have already been forced to scale back their operations, cancel or default on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers, and, in some cases, shutter their operations entirely. Failing to release additional H-2B visas will only result in more closures, reduced equipment purchases, and the termination of many of their full-time, year-round U.S. workers.

    As a general rule, H-2B employers are strongly conservative and most are Trump supporters. They are small business owners who believe in individual responsibility. 

    In the amusement industry for example, many carnivals are generational businesses that all began with a Ferris wheel or carousel and now own multi-million dollar businesses. These are exactly the type of blue-collar voters you must carry if you are going to win reelection in 2020.

    Mr. Trump, don't leave your supporters hanging.

    Help us help you. Let's keep your economy going strong. 

    Release the visas. 

    Make Like Nike, Just Do it!

    Sign the petition now by clicking here


  • Fri, March 15, 2019 1:11 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Paul Davis, who finished his 11th year as general manager of the 90th annual Florida Strawberry Festival, held Feb. 28-March 10 in Plant City, almost ran out of superlatives in describing what a really good event this was for the fair, the entire talent lineup, and Charles Panacek's Belle City Amusements.

    Panacek went into Plant City beaming after opening the season with a near record run at the Jan. 17-27 Daniel West-managed Manatee County Fair, Palmetto. “If not for getting rained out the last Sunday we would have had a record in Palmetto,” said Panacek. The next run, the Charlotte County Fair, Port Charlotte, Feb. 1-10, was a record for the carnival, with perfect weather. That was followed by a good outing at the Hendry County Fair, Clewiston, Feb. 12-17, where Panacek has played for many years.

    Among those booking at early Florida dates have been T. J. Schmidt Amusements, Arnold Amusements, Michael Wood, Jeremy Floyd, Josh Macaroni, Gary Hughes of Carnival Tyre Shows, and David Starkey. Dave Potopas is back as concession manager. The Gibtown trade show dates conflicted with Panacek having to attend the meeting of the Florida Safety Advisory Board, of which he is a member.

    Panacek is pleased that because of opening his season so early, he has received his full allotment of 40 Mexican workers through the H-2B visa program. “Help remains a problem, but the economy is good, and people are spending. As long as we get the weather, this should be a big year,” he said.

    Getting back to Plant City, Davis said Willie Nelson sold out and did a great show. Attendance was up five per cent to 568,000, and the fair and carnival took in more money in history on the second Saturday, when the sun shined brightly, and 92,000 people came out. David Snowden of Triangle Talent, Louisville, Ky., booked the entertainment. Steven Tyler, formerly with Aerosmith, had to cancel his Sunday, March 3 show, but there were many highlights. Davis, who worked in law enforcement at the fair for 32 years before becoming GM, said, “Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra and The Kingston Trio packed them in on our two Senior Days. I still know the words to four or five of Kingston Trio's songs. Our lighting man, Dave King, switched everything to LED lights and ticket sales were up 12 per cent. I believe this bodes well for the industry and our economy.”

    Davis emphasized, “I have never been around so many good people. Usually when I saw them in law enforcement, they were not at their best. But with the carnival and fair, I've watched people like Ronnie and Kim Netterfield grow up. There are so many people, like the Panaceks, Arnolds and Starkeys. One concessionaire lost his electricity, and within minutes, Ronnie was helping him with extension cords. There was a little lost kid and Ronnie and Kim found him, fed him, and brought him to the office.

    “Old Dominion provided a big closing act for us. For King & Country and Keith Sweat are the real deals. They were sensational. What an honor it was to have Pat Boone do his last show here. It was very emotional. We didn't know it was going to be his last, but we couldn't be more pleased. At 84, he said he'd stay around as long as it took to sign autographs for everybody who wanted one. And after Gene Watson's show, Styx made a compliment about how professional he was, one genre to another. It was really a nice occasion.”

    In conclusion, Davis said, “We can't compete with a $40 million ride at Disney, or a $30 million ride at Busch Gardens, but we can offer a time to take a break and enjoy a little slice of Americana. We can provide the best a carnival and fair can offer.” Asked if he consumed many strawberries, Davis laughed and said “It comes with the job. I start off with Fiske Fries, Amish doughnuts, and strawberries.”

    Acts not mentioned in earlier columns include The Drifters, Platters and Cornell Gunter's Coasters, NeedToBreathe, Watson, Styx The Kingston Trio, The Lettermen, For King & Country, Tanya Tucker, Chris Janson, Keith Sweat, Bill Anderson and Bobby Bare, and Old Dominion. Also, Redhead Express, Dennis Lee, Danny Moody Band, Kazual, Runa Pacha Indian World, Pompeyo Dog Show, Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, Paul Jr. of American Chopper, Robinson's Racing Pigs, Rock-It the Robot, Kandu Magic Show, and The Walker Boys.

    The Feb. 25-March 17 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with Ray Cammack Shows on the Midway, has produced two record crowds for concerts so far. They are 75,580 on the opening Friday for Cardi B, and 75,586 on the second Sunday for Los Tigres Del Norte. The World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, held the Thursday through Saturday before the big show, drew 215,685, compared to 215,476 last year. A standalone show by George Strait, Lyle Lovett, and Robert Earl Keen is expected to draw more than 80,000 people on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The next biggest crowds have been 71,366, Brooks & Dunn; 74,738, Panici at the Disco; 72,384; Luke Combs, and 75,122, Kane Brown.

    “It was the best fair we've ever had, phenomenal.” Those were the words of Jeanne Keaton, who has been general manager of the St. Lucie County Fair, Fort Pierce, Fla., since 1993. “We were up 10 per cent on the midway and seven per cent at the gate.” Strates Shows provides the midway, in an arrangement with Jerry Murphy of Murphy Bros. Exposition. Attendance was estimated at 134,000.

    “St. Lucie and Martin County are poorer counties, so it takes everybody working together. We didn't do anything different, didn't go up on prices. A local radio station made it possible to book Carly Pierce and Seth Anthony. We work hard to spread the word and people like to come to our fair. We book most of our acts direct during the Florida Association of Fairs convention each year,” said Keaton.

    Entertainment for the 54th annual event included PRCA Rodeo, Hypnotist Chris Mabrey, the Greenville Groundhogs, Ninja Express, Danny Grant's Cowboy Circus, Robo Cars, Funny Little People, demolition derby, and Show Me Safari Petting Zoo and Racing Pigs. Mega Pass, good for admission and unlimited rides, sold for $65 in advance, or $85 after Feb. 28. Gate admission was $15 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for children. St. Lucie is spring training base of the New York Mets.

    Thanks to all who have offered prayers, thoughts and phone calls after my surgery for melanoma of the forehead last Friday. To be honest, I've told family and friends I never would have had it done if I had known how tough it would be. The answer to that is Christine and my four kids would have insisted I go through with it, along with my own good sense.

    I have two yellow cones sticking out of my head, forcing me to sleep each night on a chair, and using up all my pain pills due to headaches. The results aren't in yet about how much of the cancer they were able to get rid of. I suspect some radiation and chemotherapy will be involved. Hopefully, this Thursday, the plastic surgeon will remove the big yellow objects and some of the bandages. I've seen some great 15-round boxing matches, and for a while I felt as if I were in one—and lost.

    Have all great days, and God Bless!

    Please send news to tomp@oaba.org, or call 615 319-1258

  • Thu, March 07, 2019 6:17 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Holy Cow! That was one of the favorite expressions of Harry Caray, the great broadcaster of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, who would have celebrated his 99th birthday on March 4. The same exclamation applies to the fast starts enjoyed by the Feb. 28-March 10 Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Fla., and Feb. 25-March 17 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.    More>>>>  

  • Thu, March 07, 2019 6:15 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

     * PAWS Celebrates its 35th Anniversary.
     * Animal Welfare Institute Issues Call to Action in Illinois.
      More>>>

  • Thu, March 07, 2019 6:13 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    Our thanks to the 40 OABA members who sent comments to the DOL. We still need to get our count to 100+ so if you haven't already done so, please customize this link to fit your organization but keeping the message while doing so.
    Simply click here, then copy, paste and update the highlighted information into an email to reflect your organization and send to H2BReform.Comments@dol.gov. It is urgent that we all weigh in en masse on this H-2B Lottery situation asap! 
    Please copy gregc@oaba.org when sending your email so that we will have a record for evidence of our concern should we need it.

  • Thu, March 07, 2019 4:38 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)
    U.S. On-Highway Diesel Fuel Prices*  
    full history
              Change from
      02/18/19 02/25/19 03/04/19   week ago year ago
    U.S. 3.006 3.048 3.076   values are up 0.028 values are up 0.084
    East Coast (PADD1) 3.073 3.094 3.119   values are up 0.025 values are up 0.073
    New England (PADD1A) 3.165 3.171 3.177   values are up 0.006 values are up 0.051
    Central Atlantic (PADD1B) 3.256 3.286 3.301   values are up 0.015 values are up 0.061
    Lower Atlantic (PADD1C) 2.927 2.949 2.985   values are up 0.036 values are up 0.091
    Midwest (PADD2) 2.904 2.969 3.014   values are up 0.045 values are up 0.094
    Gulf Coast (PADD3) 2.809 2.849 2.870   values are up 0.021 values are up 0.077
    Rocky Mountain (PADD4) 2.887 2.913 2.939   values are up 0.026 values are up 0.029
    West Coast (PADD5) 3.458 3.493 3.503   values are up 0.010 values are up 0.111
    West Coast less California 3.104 3.141 3.155   values are up 0.014 values are up 0.091
    California 3.739 3.772 3.779   values are up 0.007 values are up 0.127
    *prices include all taxes
    Information from www.eia.gov


  • Thu, February 28, 2019 4:31 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Gene Dean, owner of Fiesta Shows/Dean Enterprises, Seabrook, N.H., will be inducted into the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (NEAAPA) Hall of Fame, Tuesday, March 19.

    More>>>>

  • Thu, February 28, 2019 3:35 PM | Sue Gallup (Administrator)

    news from Carnival Warehouse

    The 2019 South Florida Fair suffered from the one factor outdoor event organizers cannot control – rain. The final fair for retiring Rick Vymlatil, CFE, President/CEO South Florida Fair & Palm Beach County Expositions, a position he's held since 2004, had the kind of first fair managers fear most – an entirely cancelled day.  More>>>>

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